Friday 23 September 2011

Half Moon pose - Arda-Chandrasana

Ardha-Chandrasana or Half Moon pose is the first of the 26 postures in the Bikram series. Teachers will often say that this posture determines the fate of your entire 90 minute practice. This posture warms up your spine and activates the central nervous system, which certainly affects your performance in the other 25 postures that follow.
The scientific origins of Half Moon go back to the beginning of Hatha Yoga time. The word Hatha (meaning any series of postures), comes from combining the two Sanskrit terms. “Ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. When the two components of the word are placed together, “hatha” means “forceful”, implying that powerful work must be done to purify the body. Yoga means to yoke, or to join two things together, hence hatha yoga is meant to join together sun (masculine, active) energy with the moon (feminine, receptive) energy, thus producing balance and greater power in an individual. The sun is represented in the right side of the body and the moon in the left. This is also why almost all yoga postures are done from right to left (sun to moon or masculine to feminine). Have we lost you yet with all this yoga jargon?
So, back to Half Moon Pose. This idea of sun and moon is very evident in the Half Moon posture. First you bend to the right, moving circulation from right to left (ha to tha). Then you bend to the left, reversing the circulation. In the beginning you are struggling just for good form. Over time, as the body improves, you will be able to deepen the posture and therefore move even more blood circulation to each side of the body. Eventually, in the future, the side you are bending will only have about 4 inches distance from your shoulder blade/scapula to the hipbone.
This lateral bending is all in preparation for the amazing Half Moon backbend that takes place next. To do a good backbend, start by dropping your head back as far as it goes. Truly, look at the floor behind you and use your eyes to guide you deeper into the posture. When you are all the way back, contract your hip muscles and push them forward towards to mirror and you will find yourself even more rooted and further deepening your backbend. Keep your arms and elbows straight and keep reaching back….and breathe! Don’t be afraid if your back hurts or you feel weird. This is normal to experience.

  • Trims fat all over the body: thighs, hips, waist, buttocks, arms and abdomen.
  • Improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body, especially the back and abdomen.
  • Increases flexibility of the spine
  • Helps pigeon chest
  • Helps release tension in the respiratory system
  • Corrects bad posture
  • Promotes proper kidney function
  • Helps cure enlargement of the liver and the spleen
  • Helps cure dyspepsia and constipation
  • Helps to alleviate lower back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder
  • Realigns spine
  • Stretches the lymph glands and is good for lymphoma
  • Good for children to build will power and self-esteem

Energetic Benefits

Proper alignment of half-moon exercises and opens many of the chackras.
§  Aligning your hips opens the 1 (root), 2 (sexual) and 3rd (solar plexus) chackras. This breaks through issues of power, intimacy, sexuality, creativity and self-image.
§  Opening of the shoulders activates the 3 (solar plexus), 4th (heart) and 5th (throat) chackras. releasing of the shoulder area helps to balance the difference you feel between your inner and outer self : how you see yourself, and how you feel the world sees you
§  allows you to break free from taking yourself too seriously

Class Notes from the Pros

From Rajishree
§  You MUST use the hips. If you feel pain in the ribs or scapula, you are using your upper spine too much and not enough of your hips.
From Craig

According to Craig, the two biggest mistakes in Half-Moon are holding the body up to avoid the pain of stretching and flopping down using only flexibility. Here are his tips to avoid these mistakes and improve your pose:
§  Stretch up first as much as possible to open up the intervertebral disks [soft tissue between your vertebra]
§  Your hips should initiate the movement because they are both your centre of gravity and prana [energetic center]
§  Exhale as you stretch, gravity will help you. This applies to all poses that use gravity.
§  Think ‘stretch’ instead of ‘come down’ so that the static arc of the posture will hold you up
§  If you feel pain in your lower back, you have failed to stretch
§  Instead of focusing on bringing the palms together, focus on stretchingand lengthening which will automatically force the elbows to straighten and the palms to touch

Tips for Teachers
§  Hold the first set at least 30 seconds, 1 minute is better. If the room is not hot enough, hold it approximately 1 minute – Craig
§  Pay close attention to the order of the dialogue. “The dialogue is a set of variables executed in a sequence, each one must exist in order to allow the next to happen.” – Craig
§  Say the dialogue once, make the students see themselves and repeat, repeat, repeat until they understand the pose - Bikram
§  The first dialogue of half-moon is important because it establishes yourauthority in the class, and sets the stage for the students to surrenderto  the instructions. If you can make a beginner understand half-moon by second set, you can make them surrender. – Bikram
§  Half-Moon is a very diagnostic posture, use your knowledge of the form to diagnose and anatomical inconsistencies affecting your students – Craig

Half Moon from Sara Curry on Vimeo.


Bikram Yoga Vancouver said...

Fantastic post! Ardha-Chandrasana is such a fantastic posture, thanks for spreading the Half Moon love!

Anonymous said...

It is very challenging but rewarding pose for sure!c

Eva said...

Very nice pose, one of my favorites!

Hot Yoga Uppsala said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

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